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  • I was young. Very young. I trusted my parents to guide my every step, even when I thought I didn't. There was nowhere I could go or nothing I could do at that age where my mom or dad weren't a few dashes away and I would almost always end up being dragged around on mundane adventures that somehow seemed tolerable as a child. I imagine this was because of the ever-present possibility that going to the store for a couple groceries meant another opportunity to acquire goodies for myself, by means of emotional manipulation or public crying and embarrassment in the absence of money of my own.

    On one of such occasions, I was with my mother at the mall. For pint-sized Adam, the mall was a huge place full of people of all shapes and sizes, stores and signs of all different color and content. Even with the notion of negotiating quarters for the arcade or toy and treat purchases always in the back of my mind, the sights and sounds were stimulating enough that I didn't need any other reason to be there. It was an adventure worth going on even without spoils to return with.

    We had been shopping for a few odds and ends that were of little importance to me. It was time to pace our way back through the mall and toward the parking lot, but upon exiting our final store, we were approached by a clown.

    I had heard tell from various people in my life about how some kids were afraid of clowns. I knew what a clown was, and certainly wasn't afraid of a man wearing a costume and facepaint. I just thought they were odd and uncomfortable to be around, perhaps too goofy for my tastes.

    The clown slunk over to us and seemed to be fixated on me. He sort of bent his knees a little and moved closer to me.

    "Wanna see my bees?"

    After he had asked the question, I assumed I had misheard him.
    "What?" I spat out as I noticed he was holding a wooden box and feared that he might have actually asked the question I thought I heard the first time.

    The clown man got closer and held the wooden box in front of my face, preparing to open it from the top like a cigar box.

    "Do you want to see my beeeeeeeeeeeeeees?"

    He drew out the word "bees" as if we were suddenly living in slow motion, all the while I became incredibly frightened.

    As politely as possible, I let out a nervous "no thank you," while backing away towards my mother who I was expecting to intervene but didn't.
    The clown was uncomfortably close to me and was starting to open a wooden box full of bees in front of my face. I was scared out of my mind but holding my own.

    "You don't want to see my bees? Look at my bees!"

    He opened the box.

    It was full of Bs. As in, the letter B. Carved from wood, various typefaces affixed to the inside panels of the wooden box.

    I think the man was expecting laughter or some sort of acknowledgement of the trick he played, but I was not impressed.
    I exhaled in relief, with my heart still pounding as I turned toward my mother. I had never looked more forward to leaving the shopping mall. We headed toward the parking lot.

    I'm a grown man now. I never did fear clowns, and I'm certainly not going to start now. If I see a clown with a wooden box or at an apiary though, I might run for the hills.

    (Photo by Todd Huffman.
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